With the Garmin Forerunner 965 the popularity of the AMOLED screen is at its peak. The new model, which arrives on the market about a year after the model from which it is based (the Garmin Forerunner 955) doesn't really bring anything new to the table beyond its display technology.
Although there are other changes. For example that aesthetically it looks "better" thanks to its titanium bezel. The screen is even bigger (you would have to go to the 51mm Epix Pro to have a screen of the same size). In short, small differences to have a more interesting "package". But don't worry that in addition to the complete analysis of this model I will also leave you a section with the differences between the 955 and the 965.
I always like to remind you of the origin of the devices I test. In this case the Forerunner 965 of the test has been bought by me in store. I could have continued to wait for a temporary transfer from Garmin, but the stock is being quite limited and I didn't want to make you wait any longer for poder to give you the review.
So if you like the work I do in these tests and you want to collaborate with the website, you can do it through the published links. And don't forget to join the Telegram channel I post a lot of bargains there on a regular basis, thanks for your support!
- High-quality, large screen
- Titanium bezel adds that touch of style and quality that the Forerunner range has always lacked.
- Despite the AMOLED the autonomy is high and perfectly usable.
- Although we are talking about Garmin, the price is not skyrocketing.
- Garmin has not added any additional smart features.
- Titanium has only reached the bezel. The rest remains traditional plastic
- LTE still missing
- Without the flashlight of the Fenix 7X or Fenix 7 Pro
Garmin Forerunner 965, all the news
Actually there are few new features, as I said a few paragraphs back. But that doesn't mean that the FR965 doesn't have things to highlight. Before going into detail I will give you a short list of changes.
- 1.4″ AMOLED touch screen, larger than the 955's 1.3″ screen.
- 47.2mm diameter; 0.7mm larger than 955
- Titanium bezel
- Same weight of 52 grams despite the larger size and the titanium bezel
- No solar-charged version available
- Garmin Elevate V4 Optical Pulse Sensor
- Multi-band satellite reception with SatIQ option for smart selection (arrived on 955 after upgrade)
- TopoActive maps of Europe and possibility of downloading worldwide via WiFi
- 32GB memory capacity
- Up to 31 hours with GPS-only use (42 hours on the 955), and up to 23 days in smartwatch mode
- Same metrics and morning report, with pulse variability and training bias monitoring
- Training load ratio metric
- Running power estimation, now directly from the wrist (arrived on 955 after update)
- Advanced running dynamics directly from the wrist (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc). Previously required external sensor, now optional if you want more accurate data. Coming to 955 via update.
- Available colors: black, white or yellow
- The price goes up to 649€.
Few "real" new features beyond the use of the AMOLED screen. But with this release Garmin takes the opportunity to make official news that have come to other models, and serves to make a second release to features such as power estimation directly from the wrist, or SatIQ mode for satellite reception.
Comparison: Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Garmin Forerunner 955
This is one of the questions I've been asked the most lately, and it can also be extrapolated to any model of any other brand (present or future): Garmin Forerunner 955 or Garmin Forerunner 965? AMOLED screen or transflective MIP screen?
Beyond the fact that it is the market itself that is demanding it (with the Apple Watch pushing it), the reason is none other than that the technology is already prepared to have a screen with this technology.
Why has the AMOLED screen only started to become popular now? For a very simple reason, autonomy. The new 2023 models are far from being pioneers in this technology, we have already had AMOLED screens in sports watches for years (even in Garmin, with the Garmin Venu).
Watches already have more than enough autonomy to support the extra consumption of such a screen, and even with the restrictions imposed by manufacturers to not shoot the power consumption, processors are already able to move a little more elaborate interfaces that stand out on the new screen (and much wider resolutions, let's not forget).
But that doesn't mean that the AMOLED display is going to completely eliminate transflective MIPs. The two are doomed to live side by side, especially in high-end sports devices where other things are also important.
Proof of this is that both the Garmin Forerunner 965 and the Forerunner 955 will share the market. The FR965 has not arrived to replace the FR955, only to complete it. And although at the software level there is no difference between the two, there are some changes that you should be aware of.
- AMOLED display in the FR965, transflective MIP in the FR955
- Larger screen on the 965 (1.4″ instead of 1.3″).
- Titanium bezel on 965, all-plastic on 955
- Virtually the same housing size: 47.1×13.2mm for the 965 and 46.5×14.4mm for the 955.
- Much higher resolution on the AMOLED display: 454x454px vs. 260x260px
- This higher resolution allows maps with more information and greater detail at the same zoom scale.
- More detailed user interface and images on the 965 to take advantage of the higher-quality display
- USB-C charging cable on the 965 and USB on the 955. The watch connector does not change, nor does the charging speed. They can be used interchangeably.
- No solar charging version on 965
And obviously there are also changes in battery life, the comparison of which I leave you in the image below.
A priori 1TP7We may think that the 965 will have a much more limited autonomy than its counterpart with transflective display, but as you can see above, it is not "so much". Perfectly acceptable for a watch in which you are going to make much use of its satellite reception function.
Therefore, the key in the choice between one model or another, between one technology or another is not in the autonomy. Or at least not exclusively. And it is about all these details that the video you can find in the header is about.
Certainly one thing that is clear to me about the doubts you have is how the AMOLED screen will look when there is a lot of outdoor lighting. Personally I have not had any visibility problems, beyond those pointed out in the video, but as a picture is worth a thousand words here I leave you a series of images of different screens comparing the Garmin Forerunner 965 with the 955.
They are photos in full light and without editing anything of how the photo came out in the camera. You can see that the incidence of light is total because it is perfectly appreciated the solar zone of the 955 and the brightness in the metallic bezel of the 965.
Garmin Forerunner 965 Basics
As you've just seen, the differentiating factor of the Garmin Forerunner 965 is its AMOLED display, for better and for worse. In everything else it's pretty much the same.
The design of the watch is fairly continuous, although the main button changes slightly. It is now a larger elongated button, instead of the classic round button we had until now. But Garmin still maintains the five buttons and their location.
As with the 955, the control is not just buttons, but also a touchscreen. At most times I prefer the buttons, but sometimes I use the screen and it is also quite handy. Things like scrolling the map or selecting something when there are several options on the screen is now easier. Things as "silly" as setting the PIN for Garmin Pay payments are a big advantage with the touchscreen.
We also have different options to decide when to activate or deactivate the use of the touch screen, it is not an "all or nothing". We can do it in the daily interface or independently by sports, so absolute freedom.
The AMOLED display has two configuration possibilities: always on or with wrist turn. And 1TP7We can configure its behavior separately for training or for everyday use.
In the always-on display mode the watch lowers the intensity of the display and the number of colors it shows to save power, when you turn your wrist (or receive a notification) it returns to its normal state.
If we activate the wrist turn the screen will remain completely off until it recognizes the wrist turn which, depending on how you do it, it will recognize it or not.
In this model, I do not find autonomy as critical as I did with the Forerunner 265 and 1TP7We can use the always-on screen mode very quietly. Obviously the autonomy suffers, but it is not as noticeable as in its little brother.
One thing to keep in mind is that even though we have a high quality display, this is not a smartwatch. It's exactly the same as any other Forerunner, for better and for worse. We have Garmin Pay, music playback, the ability to install apps or different watch faces... but not much else.
That is, if you buy a Forerunner it has to be for its sport functions and not for what you are going to do with it as a smartwatch. You can't reply to messages (only predefined messages on Android), you can't make or answer calls, there are no generalist apps, etc.
What it is very complete is in its health monitoring aspect. We have record and monitoring of many data of our daily life: Steps, floors climbed (because yes, it has barometric altimeter), heart rate, sleep analysis, Body Battery, etc.. It is possible to view this data both on the watch and in the app.
Among the health monitoring options, one of the values that I like to keep track of the most is the heart rate variability. HRV is automatically recorded every night and, the next morning, podhen you will see a graph of the whole night and the average for that period.
As indicated in the video I linked to in the previous paragraph (I can link it here again) I am not so much concerned about the fixed value itself as I am about the trend over time. That is, I assume that the absolute value offered by the watch has to be taken with a grain of salt and that it is not comparable to that offered by another device, but I do care about the trend it is showing over time. And with that, how it compares to the average we have been accumulating over the last seven days and four weeks.
All of this can be viewed individually by accessing the widget or as part of the daily report displayed by the clock when you wake up.
All of this I have already detailed in the analysis of the Garmin Forerunner 955so if you want to know more details I recommend you to take a look at this article.
As the heading of this section says, it is like any other Garmin. For the good, but also for the bad, and is that there is no improvement in the "smart watch" section. Not that it has nothing, because at the end we have the possibility to install watch faces, widgets or simple applications. It also supports music from streaming platforms and wireless payments through Garmin Pay.
What is the difference between a high-end watch from Garmin with respect to a mid-range of the same brand? Or specifically in this case, the difference between the 965 and the 265? Both have an AMOLED display and fairly similar aesthetics, both are multisport watches so both are good for triathlon or open water.
We can summarize the main differences in two things: autonomy and software functions, although there are some additional things. In any case I specify the things that we have present in the Garmin Forerunner 965 and yet are not in the 265
Comparison Garmin Forerunner 965 vs Forerunner 265
- Larger screen on FR965 (1.4″ vs 1.3″ of FR265 and 1.1″ of FR265S).
- Titanium bezel on 965, plastic on 265
- Maps for navigation and popular routes (265 has navigation, but no maps)
- ClimbPro is only on FR965
- Load ratio metric
- Stamina Metrics
- Load ratio metric
- Advanced cycling dynamics, power guidance, Grit & Flow and more cycling profiles available than on the 265
- Group Livetrack
- Live Strava segments
- More sport profiles, e.g. golf features
- Much more autonomy
- More memory, 32GB in the 965 while the 265 has only 8GB.
The truth is that if we start to add up functions and what one and the other offer... the 265 is looking less and less interesting, mainly in terms of autonomy. I leave you this comparative table so you can see the differences.
As you can see the Forerunner 265 is on the borderline of what would be usable by 2023 standards, but the 965 more than meets any usage profile.
Where am I going with all this? Well, the difference between the Garmin Forerunner 965 and the 265 is "only" 150€. Yes, I have put it in quotation marks because depending on the economy of each one those 150 € can be quite an effort, but in my opinion the top model is a much more interesting purchase than its little brother for autonomy and performance (even leaving aside things like screen size or titanium bezel).
But let's talk a bit about the sport features offered by the Garmin Forerunner 965.
Sport metrics and algorithms
Naturally, the Garmin Forerunner 965 includes all the sport metrics available in the brand. This is because it is the high-end model of the Forerunner so it receives all the functions present so far, and premieres others such as the training load ratio.
This metric compares two other metrics that are present on the watch, Acute Training Load (ATL for those of you accustomed to Training Peaks) along with Chronic Training Load (CTL for those same PT users).
What is each one? Well, I'll explain it to you by copying from the guide on how to use Training Peaks.
- ATL (Fatigue)Acute Training Load: Acute Training Load (short-term). It is the average TSS of the last 7 days. An ATL of 100 assumes that the average daily TSS of the last days has been 100TSS in each training (which can be varied, but in total it would add up to 700 divided by 7).
- CTL (Fitness)Chronic Training Load: Chronic Training Load (long-term). It is the average TSS of the last 6 weeks of training. Same as ATL, but takes into account the TSS of the last 6 weeks and divides by 42.
Garmin does it a little differently, but basically compares the short term load (7 days) to the medium to long term load (28 days) to give a ratio and tell us if we are ramping up the load reasonably without big jumps in our training. Those that lead to overtraining or injury.
Here the idea is to stay in the central zone marked in green, dividing the chronic load by the acute load to see what the ratio is between one and the other. If both numbers were the same the ratio would be 1.0, and depending on which is more something will give us a value higher or lower than 1.
The optical range is between 0.8 and 1.5, above these values it will give us "a touch".
This is all part of the Training Status section, which has been growing over time and adding more metrics while polishing the details of those already present.
The training status message is determined by a series of metrics. The main ones are those shown on the first screen (VO2Max, heart rate variability and acute load). But there are other values such as load focus or recovery status.
At the moment my status is listed as "Maintenance" because an ankle ligament problem has kept me from running for the last few weeks, so there is no trend in VO2Max. If you add to that that lately I have low pulse variability (I think due to the injury and the lack of routine with the training) and that the test in the Suunto Vertical Has kept me off the Garmin records for a while, the result basically is that. I'm cycling and swimming, so I'm more or less maintaining (low) form right now, as I'm not preparing for any short term events.
In short, we have the same metrics that were present in the Garmin Forerunner 955, in its last update, and to that we add the training load ratio as another value to quickly verify if we are increasing or decreasing the load.
It is possibly in the maps where we are going to poder get the most out of the AMOLED screen. Not only because of the extra visibility it provides, but also because of the increased resolution. As there is more resolution on the screen, more information enters both points and map space.
In both cases the zoom level is the same (500m). But since the 965 has a much higher screen resolution, not only can we see more detail, but we can also see more points of interest and streets.
In the 32GB of memory that we have available in the 1TP7 watch we can download, for free, maps of the whole world. By default the watch offers the map of the area where we bought the watch (in our case Europe), but it is possible to download for free maps of the rest of the world.
The download can be done via Wi-Fi from the watch itself with the map manager. This option is practical because you don't need any other device and you can manage it directly on the watch, but it also involves an extremely slow download. You can also do it by connecting the watch by cable to the computer.
When navigating pod routes we can load them with the Garmin creator (both in the app and on the web), as well as import them from other services -Strava, Komoot...- or directly in GPX. And if you don't have any route and don't feel like creating one, you can also use the round trip function directly from the watch.
This is a feature that has been in Garmin for some time now, debuted on the Edge units, and has made its way to the watches as well. You simply choose the miles you want to ride and in which direction, and the watch will plot a round-trip route with a similar distance to the one you're looking for.
Since the maps have a popularity routing feature, in theory the watch will create a route along the most used roads or paths in the area. Although I have to say that when you test it in a known area it makes some questionable choices (and they are clearly not popular), but hey, it's an interesting option when you find yourself on a trip and don't know where you can run or bike to.
All routes have both turn warnings and an indication if we leave a route, and features such as Around Me for navigating to nearby points of interest, the "Next Fork" feature released with the Garmin Enduro 2 with distance warning to the next fork (even without loading a route), or return to start via the shortest path to create a return route without having to retrace the same path you have used to reach the point where you are.
In short, in the Forerunner 965 you will find practically the same mapping and navigation functions that we have in other models of the Outdoor ranges such as the Fenix 7/Epix/Enduro 2. There will be small differences, but you will have to be very careful to find them or need something that is present in a Fenix and that the 965 does not have.
Satellite reception performance and optical pulse sensor
The generalized arrival of multiband satellite reception has led me to make a decision, and that is that unless I find major errors I will not enter into major comparisons. And the fact is that the performance is already so good that it is difficult to find errors, and when they appear they are very small.
It's something I've podido see not only in this Garmin Forerunner 965, also in the case of the Suunto Vertical or previous Garmin models like the FR955 or the Fenix 7 sapphire.
Which doesn't mean that I won't show you comparisons. I know that many of you are looking for these images and comments, I'll just try to be brief and not go into too much detail so as not to make it all too boring.
In any case you know what the usual disclaimer is. I always like to clarify, as in the optical sensor tests that you will see later, that the GPS comparisons are made in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Wearing both the Garmin Forerunner 965 and other models, and checking where the problems appear.
I do not have any defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
This is why I prefer to make this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and assess it from this one.
Regarding the optical pulse sensor I can repeat word for word what I just told you. The performance is already frankly good and, to whom they are not currently working (because there may be "incompatibilities" such as tattoos or skin color) I do not think it will have many changes in the future.
Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
I'll start with this first example. An easy workout at a gentle pace, in which I barely had any problems. With the Suunto Vertical in multiband mode and both the Forerunner 965 and Forerunner 955 with SatIQ mode.
Practically all along the route, the tracks of the three watches coincided perfectly.
Yes, there are some points where there may have been three or four meters of separation by one of the watches, for example going down to the beach the Suunto Vertical is shown a few meters to the right of the two Garmins.
But later it is the other way around and it is the Forerunner 965 that separates those same meters from the 955 or the Suunto Vertical. These are normal situations and do not influence neither the pace nor the distance covered.
Even the tracks where I go up and down that footbridge over the highway are perfectly clean one on top of the other as I make the various turns necessary to go up and down.
Training on a different day does not give a different result.
Another training where it's not even worth zooming in on the image.
If running at a gentle pace presents no problem, cycling at higher speeds even less so. It makes everything much more boring.
You can see in this enlargement how the tracks are practically perfect. Three superimposed lines on the right side of the road both uphill and downhill.
And in open water swimming the situation with all multiband is very similar to running or cycling. In this example I wear the Garmin Forerunner 965 and Suunto Vertical each on one wrist, with a Garmin Swim 2 as a reference under the cap, always out of the water.
It is not the best way either because the one I have in my head uses the running profile and its algorithm is not prepared for such low paces, but it serves to guarantee that where it says I have passed it is true that I have done it.
You can see that the result is really good in the case of both Suunto and Garmin. Both coincide in the track fully and, if there is any error, it is more on the part of Swim 2 due to the fact of complicating the algorithm's existence.
It is in this marked part of the purple track where we have more errors on the part of Swim 2. I have also pointed out with the arrow a point where the Suunto has gone slightly to the right.
They are not perfect tracks, but you know about the difficulty in open water and both the Suunto Vertical and the Garmin Forerunner 965 perform perfectly.
In fact, in measured distance the Suunto Vertical has recorded 1,938m while the Garmin Forerunner 965 has been 1,914m. The out-of-water reference measured 2,010m, but those errors I noted above add quite a few extra meters.
Let's move on now to look a bit at the optical pulse sensor, with which I haven't experienced any problems either. I found what I expected to find. Except for very punctual moments, perfect during the race.
In cycling the performance is usually moderately correct when there is a constant medium/high intensity, but when the intensity drops or is very variable the algorithm does not work correctly.
And this is something that does not happen on the bike, where all the intervals done on the treadmill come out perfectly.
In this last graph there is only one problem at the beginning of the workout (between minutes 3 and 8), and that is from simply standing still trying to connect the Coospo HW9 sensor to the ELEMNT Bolt. The rest of the time... perfect.
As you can see, the data provided by the Garmin Forerunner 965 both in heart rate measurement and satellite track recording are very very good, placing it at the top as "leader" of the segment along with other models of Garmin with multiband or the new Suunto Vertical.
It's not just that the tracks are solid, it's that the information podemos see on screen is reliable at all times.
As for the heart rate, knowing that in cycling the situation is complicated and that it is complicated and that is where you are going to poder need an external pulse sensor, I have no problem relying fully on the data provided by the optical pulse sensor integrated in the watch.
Buy Garmin Forerunner 965
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Review Garmin Forerunner 965
If you are looking for a Garmin with AMOLED screen I think the Garmin Forerunner 965 is the most recommended purchase. The price difference with the FR265 is not too high and in exchange we have quite a few more features: larger screen, more autonomy, titanium bezel, maps for navigation, Climb Pro and a few more metrics.
The FR965 is a model that was born quite mature. The reason is very simple, it is still based on the Forerunner 955 which is already a fairly mature model, and also takes the experience of Garmin with the Epix 2. Both models have already been on the market for a year so all the initial defects were polished and the truth, at the software level the FR965 does not add so many things.
What's a shame is that the flashlight didn't make it to the Forerunner range with this 965. It did make the cut on the Fenix 7 Pro range and I'm sure, development-wise, there hasn't been that much of a time difference between the development of one and the other. And I have to say that the flashlight is the most interesting feature that Garmin has released in the last two or three years.
I'm very heavy-handed about it, but it's the typical feature that we all think is little more than a silly addition to the watch, and everyone who tries it agrees that it's simply brilliant (obvious joke, sorry).
The Forerunner 965 is a really complete watch, although more smart features are missing. It seems that Garmin has parked the LTE, there is no microphone or speaker as if it has the Venu 2 Plus, nor is there any kind of novelty in the handling of notifications. In other words, exactly the same as any other Forerunner, for better and for worse.
Now the question is, you already have the 955 and the 965 catches your eye... is it interesting to take the leap? In my opinion, no. You are going to have to make a considerable investment and, after the novelty of the screen after the first few days, you will realize that you do exactly the same with one as with the other.
Are you coming from an older model and hesitating between 955 or 965? Then I refer you to the section above so that, depending on how you use it, you can decide between one or the other. Both screens have positive and negative points, but it depends on what you prefer at any given time to choose one or the other.
And with that... thanks for reading!